Swine Flu Outbreak Linked to Factory Farming
Interview with Nicolette Hahn Niman, cattle rancher and environmentalist, conducted by Scott Harris
As the United States and other nations around the world brace for what many scientists say could be a severe outbreak of the swine flu, or H1N1 influenza strain this fall and winter, the more than 2,200 students at Washington State University who contracted swine flu the first week of September may be an early indicator of what's likely to come. Delays in the production of H1N1 vaccine could complicate the U.S. Center for Disease Control's notice advising pregnant women, children and other high-risk patients to be vaccinated. Federal officials reported on Sept. 4 that at least 36 children have died in the U.S. as result of the current swine flu pandemic.
There is speculation that the origin of the disease may be connected to Carroll Farms, a huge factory hog farm located in Perote, in Veracruz state, Mexico, co-owned by the U.S.-based corporation Smithfield Foods. In early March, local Mexican health officials issued a health alert, claiming that 60 percent of the residents of Perote suffered from flu, pneumonia and bronchitis, symptoms later associated with the current swine flu outbreak. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production cites the potential public health effects of concentrated animal feeding operations as including "disease and the transmission of disease, the potential for the spread of pathogens from animals to humans."
Nicolette Hahn Niman is a cattle rancher, attorney and environmentalist. Her husband, Bill Niman, founded the Niman ranch, a natural meat company based in northern California. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Nicolette Niman about the origin of swine flu and the danger she sees posed to public health by factory farming.
Visit Nicolette Hahn Niman's website at www.righteousporkchop.com
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